Airports and Supermarkets
i At airports passengers meet and some fall in love and some fall ill. ii I met you at the supermarket and knocked over your basket. I said I’m sorry, didn’t mean to break your eggs — you invited me for dinner. iii At airports lovers meet perhaps with a sign, yellow roses or a box of Rocher. iv I met you in your kitchen and helped you chop canned pickles. You said dinners are romantic, I just want sex — you smelled like rotting cherries. v At airports strangers meet one meter away from each other masks on their faces and in between kisses. vi On planes lovers will fly, eating mango with sweet sticky rice. Happily ever after, a little bit closer to the sun. vii Have you washed your hands? That’s how the virus spreads. Have you given your soul? That’s how the heart breaks. viii On planes lovers will love, flying above the clouds, above countries reduced to dirt, masks, broken eggs, rotting cherries and pickles.
“Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.” I lay down for the rain long after the conversation is dead — we stay still letting words flood us, submerge us, bury us. There’s a certain platitude today in the silent sky — the ravens fly left to right, right to left there’s no purpose. Our spirits unconcerned — they see the body rest in the street, they step over. “Je crois que j’ai dormi parce que je me suis réveillé avec des étoiles sur le visage.” waking up feels like a little girl knocking at my window while I'm stopping at a traffic light. She’s selling me birth flowers: "Are you buying some?" I take one, I take more, they fill my body, I feel it. I float heavy over the street, held in a vast, cosmic hug. I feel the last drop of rain, falling on my palm, seeping. I look up and I think perhaps it will stop raining
Both citations in French are taken from the original text L’Étranger by Albert Camus.
Emily Blundell Owers
Your first three years in Berlin by The Wall, Barely remembered. Post-war, cold-war, grey wool Crombie of my grandfather Translating Cyrillic, unimpeded by colour-blindness. I wonder what colour your cherry tricycle Was to him, looming over you, indifferent. You, unrecognisable sans beer gut and glasses. You, who have never told me you embroidered (like your mum, sewing Chatham House falcons onto charity shop blazers) Covers of heavy metal albums onto jackets you never wore, but pored over. Sat cross-legged in your bedroom- roses, flames, bikes and beards: Concentrated bliss in rayon thread. These things I’d learn from your sisters, enamoured with you still. Big brother, Who everyone fancied in class- Causing a ruckus on school buses and in corridors. I can believe that of you, Who cannot dance but has the calves of a dancer- The silliest man I’ve ever met, with whom I share My hooded eyes and short temper. Temper, temper. You would protect them from a father with a nasty streak. Confrontation by the front door, sick of being bullied You punched him in the goolies at eighteen to go out drinking. He never raised his hand to you again. Your favourite memory, the night of Monopoly and the lanky Long jumper with a tea towel for a blanket: I’ve butchered that. You’d have to hear it from my father- Story-teller, holding court at Christmas. You guess the jokes from crackers, slide down your paper hat Into a makeshift Zorro’s mask.
1) Rising Bridge Road, Haslingden Next-door to Hilary. Envy her photographic memory: You’re double trouble. Luring the neighbour’s horse with crab apples Leap on their backs and dig your knees in. Rollerblade down bends of hills. Catch the lamppost in the crook Of your arm, or get flattened by oncoming traffic. 2) Kingston Crescent, Rossendale Melt Shelley’s records on the radiator, Feign hate for new romantics. Crash your mother’s Mini and Fall through plated glass onto the lawn. Clive’s car on the driveway. Shakes your father’s hand. Thee Jackie Blundell, captain of the cricket team. Thick Lancs accent asking ‘Où est le A1?’ You never write back to Bernard’s broken English. 3) Cornbrook House, Manchester Politics and Economics, but you hate all the maths. And the Maths Department block students throw themselves off During deadline week. Every essay, You find a way to write about the Russian Revolution. Pin Che and Karl above your bed. 4) Platt Lane, Manchester Towers of cans, shells of snakebite mixed for nights out, And unidentified valentines’- “Your legs sure would look sweet Either side of my motorbike seat”. After finals you throw up into your shirt’s breast pocket. 5) Abbeville Road, Clapham Your dad drives you down- Don’t turn into a southern softie. A job interview in one black, one blue shoe. Room with Hilary’s friends from Cambridge, They treat you like a fool. An ex-boyfriend knocks, not looking for you, And Jack Blundell dies. 6) John Ruskin Street, Walworth Kennington Vee Ay Tee. Inspections are surprisingly surprising. A nervous accountant sets his eyebrow alight. Visit tanneries and retch, Get heels stuck in power station mesh floors. Flattered and bribed, you read Blake And look for angels on Peckham Rye. 7) Rossendale Road, West Dulwich In love, elope with All six feet five inches of him. Seville and back, his surname crowns him ‘King’ but you keep yours. Roar down motorways, singe tunelessly through helmet intercom. I wear your wedding band now. 8) Sylvan Hill, Upper Norwood Find out that he’s a bastard. Lying cheating bastard. Divorced at twenty nine. The adulteress in the office, fights by the photocopier. When he’s promoted, it’s just her and him in the pub- The anti-Robert King party has a great turnout. 9) Westmount Road, Eltham Move into Paul’s pokey flat. Messy life. ‘Red shirt means I love you’, and he wears one daily. Silly, silly man with a mullet and a booming laugh. Lucky, lucky man. Can’t imagine how he woos you, most beautiful. 10) Fitzroy Gardens, Upper Norwood The baby that you planned for, you only wanted one. Sixties terrace, a windowed wall in every room, Cats and clutter you hate. I’m sorry. We sit in the back garden. You’re in the sun- While me and dad sulk in the shade.